Travel is serious business. Our nation has a multitude of fantastic travel destinations to tempt a world of travelers. Those American-based cities, regional, and local getaways are job creators, and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) have proposed bi-partisan, job stimulus legislation, The Visa Improvements to Stimulate International Tourism to the United States of America (S.1746), to enable those job creation resources.
Stimulate travel to create jobs
The VISIT USA Act, already commended by the U.S. Travel Association, would create jobs by stimulating international travel to the United States. The VISIT USA Act amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to make improvements to the U.S. visa process, which is currently a major barrier to international business and leisure travelers seeking to travel to the U.S.
Lost opportunity costs
The U.S. share of overseas arrivals has fallen from 17% to 12.4% since 2000. That tumble occurred when worldwide travel simultaneously grew by 40%. Losing just one percentage point of the total world international travel market potentially costs the U.S. 161,000 jobs.
Overcome obstacles to growth
Last May, a U.S. Travel Association report identified difficulties international travelers experience with the U.S. visa system, which causes many to choose other countries for business or leisure travel. The legislation includes several key recommendations in the U.S. Travel Association’s report. The VISIT USA legislation holds the potential to enable America to regain market share in the overseas travel market, creating 1.3 million jobs and producing $859 billion in additional cumulative economic output by 2020.
The VISIT USA Act includes key directives for improving the U.S. visa system
- Five-Year Multiple-Entry Visas for Chinese Nationals – The bill includes a recommendation to allow Chinese nationals to receive five-year multiple-entry visitor visas. Currently, Chinese nationals must apply for new U.S. visas annually, while travelers from other countries can receive up to 10-year, multiple entry visas.
- Premium Visa Process – A premium visa processing process is created to allow travelers the option of paying a much higher visa processing fee in order to receive a visa interview within three business days.
- Visa Waiver Program Expansion – The bill allows the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to designate new program countries for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
- Videoconference Pilot Program – The Secretary of State is authorized to conduct a secure videoconferencing pilot program to conduct visa interviews, lowering the hassle and additional costs of obtaining a U.S. visa.
- Encouraging Canadian Tourism to the U.S. – A new “Canadian retiree visa” (non-immigrant visa) is created that lasts 240 days and is renewable every three years for Canadians, who meet specific criteria.
- Low Peak Season Incentives – The bill permits the State Department to lower visa application fees during off-peak visa demand seasons to give travelers the incentive to apply for visas when demand is lower.
- Increasing Home Ownership by Priority Visitors – The bill creates a non-immigrant visa, renewable every three years, for an individual who expends at least $500,000 to purchase single-family homes in the United States.
International travel to America builds its economy
“Increasing the amount of business and leisure travelers to the U.S. brings significant economic benefits to the U.S. economy, and the VISIT USA Act is comprehensive legislation that makes America competitive once again in the $1.1 trillion international travel market,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.
Invigorating the travel industry in a world marketplace stimulates job creation at a critical time in America’s economic history. America’s travel destinations, certainly, can hold significant places in the top bucket list items of huge numbers of world travelers, not only for single visits, but for repeat visits. The allure of our top cities, already a siren call to world travelers, can be extended to wonderful locations throughout America, drawing ecotravelers, adventurers, family travelers, leisure travelers, and repeat travelers on wonderful retreats and vacations.
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